75 days of the new Press Council

CLOSER LOOK: Dr Julie Reid of the Media Policy and Democracy Project explains how they put the Press Council under the microscope.

The old Press Council, which was only two years old, was revamped on 1 January after months of negotiations with the regulatory wing of the Interactive Advertising Bureau South Africa, the umbrella association of online media in the country.

“The baby is now 75 days old and that is significant because now it can stand on its own,” executive director of the Press Council of South Africa, Joe Thloloe said yesterday.

The most significant change made to the council is the inclusion of the digital arena in the regulation of the media, in addition to the changes regarding lapses in journalistic ethics and practices – which were put into effect in 2013.

The inclusion of digital platforms in the regulations of the Press Council comes in response to the need to adapt to the current conditions in South Africa – that being the increased use of social media by media houses and their individual publications.

This change did not take place suddenly but rather stemmed from five years of research conducted by the Media Policy and Democracy Project.

Dr Julie Reid headed the project to evaluate the Press Council under the microscope and conducted the research by answering a number of important questions regarding the profile of the complainants who usually report unethical journalism in the media and sanctions against publications, among other things. Since reviewing the research she confidently congratulated the council on the strides they have made in the last seven years and also noted that they are looking forward to witnessing the moves the revamped Press Council will make in the future.

The new baby is born out of a fast-changing world and the new Press Council is working valiantly to uphold the principles and integrity of the media industry in South Africa.

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Racine Edwardes

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